Remarks at the 50th Anniversary Assembly Of Heads Of State and Government of The African Union:25 May 2013

Sat, 25 May 2013 | Foreign Affairs

Remarks by President James Michel at the 50th Anniversary Assembly Of Heads Of State and Government of The African Union

Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Pan-Africanism inspired our journey to nationhood. As the smallest member of our Union, we shall be celebrating 37 years of our existence as a sovereign state. We are mindful of and grateful for the role that the OAU played in this process. Our struggle for independence was also Africa’s struggle. And today, with our destiny firmly in our own hands, we celebrate the AU for this independence that we cherish and its unity of purpose. In those fifty years, we have achieved much.  But we must also acknowledge our failures and weaknesses, and rectify them.

Our Union must strengthen our capacity, to bring peace to our own people,more development to benefit our peoples;invest in the provision of education and healthcare ;champions of governance and democracy …Africa is currently benefiting from unprecedented economic growth.  But we need more African ownership of the economy.  We need to have ownership of our policies, that is to say, we must take responsibility for our economic actions and empower our own entrepreneurs.

Transforming African ownership of the economy also means claiming ownership of our oceans. The opportunities inherent in our seas belong to us, and we must create frameworks to develop this potential.  We must be able to better manage our oceans.  To do this we must be prepared to give more attention to the ‘blue economy’. Without our oceans, we cannot speak of food security on our continent.  And our oceans can be an abundant source of energy for Africa and beyond.

The spirit of Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance compels us to empower our young people, not simply to be leaders tomorrow, but to be leaders today.

We must aim to provide African examples, and not African exceptions.  On this 50th anniversary, despite our challenges, I am ever more confident that Africa can be ever more exemplary.

I congratulate all heads of state of Africa, as well as members of the Commission, on the occasion of this auspicious occasion.


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